Microsoft SideWinder X4 Review: Step Up, Son

First law of gadget recessionomics: Take something you make, which is great, make it ever so less great, and sell it for ever so less money. That's how you end up with products like Microsoft's SideWinder X4 keyboard.

The Price

$60 MSRP, $46 retail.

The Verdict

The SideWinder X6 was a marvelous fresh start for Microsoft's rejuvenated gaming hardware division, designed with a brooding Death Star aesthetic, shit hot jog wheels, and a hot-swappable detachable number pad that can be hooked up to the left or right side. It's just $20 pricier MSRP (but retail, $12) than the X6, and I'll tell you straight up, a better deal.

Microsoft SideWinder X4 Review: Step Up, Son

The SideWinder X4 is virtually identical at the core—same basic keyboard layout (including the too-long spacebar), chaos-red backlighting, and laptop-esque throw distance for the keys—but it ditches the most lovable aspects of the X6: the jog wheels and the detachable keypad. Instead, it touts anti-ghosting, so you can mash 26 keys at once and have them all register. Also, it's got fewer macros total (though really, it still has plenty enough). And a smaller wrist rest.

The core features are solid. It held up to the Twister-style keyboard gymnastics you occasionally have to perform in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and the snap of the keys is on point: Crisp and squishy, like a croissant.

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But! The fact remains, its older, more capable brother costs a few nickels more and is well worth the extra scratch. So if you can find the X4 for $20 in a bargain bin in a couple months and need a basic gaming, then it'd be a solid buy. In the meantime, if you're gonna get a gaming keyboard, step up to the X6. (Personally, I'm waiting for the inevitable X10.)

Microsoft SideWinder X4 Review: Step Up, Son

We're still suckers for the whole brimstone and fire in space aesthetic (for now)

Microsoft SideWinder X4 Review: Step Up, Son

A solid "basics" gaming keyboard, but why go for basics when it comes to gaming gear?

Microsoft SideWinder X4 Review: Step Up, Son

Software for keyboard is kinda eh compared to Logitech, SteelSeries and Razer

Microsoft SideWinder X4 Review: Step Up, Son

Too many features stripped for such a small price reduction

[Microsoft